People

Shobita Satyapal

Dr. Satyapal is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at George Mason University.  Professor Satyapal received her B.S degree in Physics from Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Rochester.  She was a postdoctoral researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  Prior to joining Mason, she was an instrument scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard and Space Telescope Science Institute. Her research centers on understanding the connection between the growth and evolution of supermassive black holes and the host galaxies in which they reside. She utilizes space- and ground-based multi-wavelength data from Chandra, XMM-Newton, WISE, Spitzer, the Very Large Array (VLA), Gemini, the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), and Keck.  Professor Satyapal is the recipient of numerous awards including the Presidential Early Career Award. Click here for more information about her research.

Dr. Satyapal is currently working on the following projects: intermediate mass black holes, dual supermassive black holes, and supermassive black holes in bulgeless and low mass galaxies. In recent years, she has been enjoying teaching quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and waves and radiation.

Jenna Cann, black hole graduate student

Jenna Cann

Jenna is a graduate student at George Mason University, and holds a B.S. in Astronomy, also from GMU. Her work focuses on determining new diagnostics, such as emission lines coming from highly ionized elements called coronal lines, to search for lower mass SMBHs in dwarf galaxies using the photoionization modeling code Cloudy and instruments such as NIRSPEC and NIRES at Keck Observatory.  She is the recipient of several prestigious awards, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Cosmos Club Foundation Cosmos Scholar, and a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research.   She is also very active in outreach and conducts tours at the GMU Observatory.

Lara Kamal

Lara is a student at George Mason University and holds a B.S. in Computer Science with an emphasis in Machine Learning. She is currently working on a second degree in Physics also at GMU. Her work focuses on using Machine Learning Algorithms, such as regression, classification, feature reduction, and neural network on Cloudy data, a photoionization modeling code, to determine the mass of the blackhole given a set of emission lines. Lara is a recipient of the Computer Science Outstanding Student Achievement and Academic Achievement in Mathematics Awards.

William Matzko

William is currently a graduate student at George Mason University. As an undergraduate, he double majored in Physics and Astronomy and subsequently earned his B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from George Mason in 2019. His past research experience focused on exoplanets, including simulating time-series data for the EarthFinder mission concept study and validating transiting exoplanets. Currently, his research is focused on understanding the behavior of outflows in galaxies as a function of their merger stage. William is the recipient of several awards, including a travel grant from the Undergraduate Student Travel Fund (USTF) and an outstanding research award from George Mason’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. Beginning in the fall of 2019, he will be one of George Mason’s observatory coordinators.

Ryan Pfeifle

Ryan is a graduate student at George Mason University and holds a B.S. in Physics – with an emphasis in astrophysics – also from GMU. Utilizing X-ray observatories such as Chandra, XMM-Newton, and NuSTAR, his work focuses on the search for dual AGN in mid-IR preselected late-stage galaxy mergers, characterizing the levels of AGN obscuration in late-stage mergers, as well as understanding AGN triggering and fueling in mergers versus isolated galaxies. Ryan is the recipient of a several awards, including the Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research (GRIAR) and two competitive International Travel Grants (ITGs) offered by the GMU Associate Provost for Graduate Education. Outreach is also a very important activity for Ryan, and he regularly conducts class and public tours at the GMU observatory.

Jim Williams

Jim earned his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan and his M.S. in Computer Science from American University. He served as a naval intelligence officer and then, as a civilian, held several computer science and programming jobs in both private industry and government. Among other  projects, he wrote a compiler for a new computer language, modeled the effects of nuclear weapons, evaluated options for arms control treaties, and designed a Unix computer network. He retired from the Department of Defense in 2013. As a GMU student, he is interested in using X-rays to study active galactic nuclei (AGNs). His current research is on modeling the soft excess in AGNs.

Affiliated Faculty

Jacqueline Fischer

Jackie Fischer is an astrophysicist, formerly in the Radio/Infrared/Optical Sensors Branch of the Remote Sensing Division and led the Infrared – Submillimeter Astrophysics & Techniques Section. She received a B.Sc. degree in physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the State University of New York in Stony Brook. She began at NRL as a National Research Council postdoctoral associate and joined the Laboratory in 1988. She has worked on a number of infrared instrumentation projects: she was the technical manager of the HYDICE Hyperspectral Digital Collection Experiment, led the optical specification team for the ASTROCAM astrometric infrared imager for U.S. Naval Observatory, and was a member of the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) Long Wavelength Spectrometer team. She was appointed as the Herschel Optical System Scientist and as a member of the Herschel Science Team in 2001. Her research interests are in the area of the evolution of galaxies and in particular, on the role that galaxy mergers play in the morphological transformation of galaxies, most recently concerning the structure of the nuclear regions of gas-rich galaxy mergers and in particular on the discovery of massive molecular outflows in gas-rich galaxy mergers and the implications for understanding galaxy feedback in these systems. 

Mario Gliozzi

Dr. Gliozzi’s research activity is focused on the investigation of the physical conditions of matter around black holes based on the analysis and interpretation of X-ray data from different classes of active galactic nuclei (AGN; especially Radio Galaxies, Blazars, Narrow Line Seyfert 1 galaxies, and true type 2 AGN). He is interested in the unification of black hole systems at three different levels:

1) The unification among the different classes of AGN, with particular focus on the radio-loud/radio quiet dichotomy

2) The unification between active and normal galaxies, investigated by studying the X-ray nuclear properties of bulgeless galaxies and Low-power AGN, which may represent the link between powerful AGN and normal galaxies.

3) The unification between AGN and Galactic Black Hole systems, with particular emphasis for the variability properties .

Click here for more information about his research.

Dr. Gliozzi is currently associated with the following research projects: supermassive black holes in bulgeless and low mass galaxies.

Barry Rothberg

Barry Rothberg obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2004. His Ph.D. dissertation focused on using near-infrared imaging and optical spectroscopy to study the dynamics of merging galaxies in the local Universe. In 2005, he joined Space Telescope Science Institute as a postdoctoral fellow to work on young star clusters in merging galaxies, and in 2007, he was awarded a National Research Council Fellowship at the Naval Research Laboratory where he worked with Dr. Jacqueline Fischer to unravel why some galaxies appeared to have dramatically different masses depending on the wavelength of light used to observe them. In 2011, Dr. Rothberg rejoined Space Telescope to provide support for the slitless grism mode on the the Wide Field Camera 3 aboard the Hubble Telescope. In 2012, he joined the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics (AIP) as a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow and Support Astronomer for the institute’s share of the Large Binocular Telescope located on Mount Graham in Arizona. Dr. Rothberg continues to work on the properties of merging galaxies in the local Universe and has expanded this work to investigate similar systems at earlier epochs (as far back as 8 Billion lightyears). He is also working with Dr. Pirzkal at Space Telescope Science Institute to apply more robust statistical methods to detecting and measuring the properties of galaxies formed within a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. Dr. Rothberg is currently working to study the properties of black holes in bulgeless and low mass galaxies, as well as merger-triggered accretion onto black holes.

Former Students

NameStatusAccolades
Dr. Rachel DudikUnited States Naval Observatory
Dr. William McAlpine
Dr. Nathan SecrestUnited States Naval Observatoryformer National Research Council Fellow

Close Collaborators

NameAffiliationWebsite
Nick AbelUniversity of Cincinnati, Clermont College
Laura BlechaUniversity of Floridahttp://www.phys.ufl.edu/~lblecha/
Thomas BohnUniversity of California, Riverside
Torsten BökerSpace Telescope Science Institutehttp://www.stsci.edu/~boeker/Welcome.html
Gabriela CanalizoUniversity of California, Riversidehttp://faculty.ucr.edu/~gabyc/
Anca ConstantinJames Madison Universityhttp://csma31.csm.jmu.edu/physics/constaax/
Sara EllisonUniversity of Victoriahttp://www.astro.uvic.ca/~sara/
Christina Manzano-KingUniversity of California, Riverside
Claudio RicciUniversidad Diego Portales
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

http://www.claudioricci.eu/Homepage.htm
Remington SextonUniversity of California, Riverside